OctaFx case: ED records statements of two TV actors for alleged promotional activities | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

OctaFx case: ED records statements of two TV actors for alleged promotional activities

Jul 04, 2024 07:30 AM IST

ED records statements of TV actors Krystle D’ Souza and Karan Wahi in money laundering probe against OctaFx. Nia Sharma also questioned. OctaFx accused of duping investors.

MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday recorded the statements of two television actors, Krystle D’ Souza and Karan Wahi, as part of its money laundering investigation against OctaFx, an allegedly illegal online forex trading platform.

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Agency officials questioned the actors for several hours about their alleged promotional activities for OctaFx, ED sources said. The agency is also likely to record the statements of a few more people, including a female television actor, Nia Sharma, who had been called for questioning but sought more time due to prior professional commitments, the sources said. The three actors could not be reached for their comment on the ED probe.

ED began its investigation based on a First Information Report registered against the platform by the Pune police under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act. Multiple individuals have been accused of duping people into forex trading through OctaFx.

The police alleged that the Saint Lucia-registered company and its Indian entity, OctaFX India Pvt Ltd, cheated investors of over 500 crore through illegal forex trading. A part of this amount was transferred abroad through complex transactions disguised as bogus freight services and other means.

ED’s probe revealed that multiple accounts of different Indian banks were allegedly shown to users on the OctaFx trading app and website to collect funds on the pretext of facilitating forex trading. After allegedly defrauding the investors, the accumulated funds were transferred to multiple e-wallet accounts or the bank accounts of dummy entities for diversion, sources said.

“The probe also revealed that the major portion of the defrauded amount on the forex trading app was used by the agents of OctaFx for creating personal wealth,” said an ED official, who requested anonymity as they aren’t authorised to speak to the media. The investigation also revealed that OctaFx was widely promoted on social networking sites and allegedly followed a referral-based incentive scheme to bring in new users.

In February, the Reserve Bank of India had included OctaFX in its alert list of unauthorised entities. The list includes three entities related to OctaFx, sources said.

ED is also looking into allegations that OctaFx, through its trading platform, allegedly manipulated trade activities, causing net losses to traders, sources said. “These tactics of manipulation involved frequent fluctuation in slippage, extending huge leverages and huge fraudulent advertisements in India through the internet to attract gullible investors,” the official said.

In April this year, ED seized bank funds worth 2.7 crore during searches carried out in four metro cities, including Mumbai. The agency has also taken under its scanner a network of chartered accountants and professionals who allegedly provided fake certificates of remittances and facilitated bank accounts/firms for parking funds.

In April 2023, the ED had provisionally attached movable and immovable properties worth 34.75 crore in connection with its investigation into OctaFx, its related entities and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The attachment was in the form of bank balances, cryptocurrencies, vehicles, gold coins and cash.

ED is also probing allegations that the company hired several Indian individuals working in Spain and Russia to operate the OctaFx trading platform and lure Indian citizens into investing in forex trading through the platform, sources said.

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